Side Effects in the Sack

Benign prostate hyperplasia drugs produce sexual side effects including erectile dysfunction and loss of libido

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) 5a-reductase inhibitors (5a-RIs), drugs that treat conditions associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or prostate enlargement), have been shown to produce sexual side effects in some patients.

While 5a-RIs, such as Propecia (finasteride), have proven to alleviate urinary symptoms accompanying BPH and possibly prevent hair loss, they have also resulted in loss of libido, erectile dysfunction (ED), ejaculatory dysfunction and potential depression in some, according to researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), who worked in collaboration with colleagues at Lahey Clinic and from Denmark and Germany for the study.

Researchers looked at data from various clinical studies concerning side effects of finasteride and dutasteride and found that a subset of men reported prolonged adverse effects, "in particular, vascular health and sexual function in a subgroup of susceptible patients," said lead author Abdulmaged M. Traish, MBA, PhD, a professor of biochemistry and professor of Urology at BUSM.

Although the adverse effects of 5a-RIs are thought to be minimal, the magnitude on sexual function, gynecomastia (large mammary development in men), depression and quality of life is not well documented. The researchers believe the study results warrant additional testing for why these symptoms persist in certain individuals.

There are approximately 19 million men living with BPH, according to the National Association of Continence.

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Review Date: 
January 12, 2011
Last Updated:
January 12, 2011